GamesNET Collaborative Project

working as a group

GamesNET is a 3 year DET funded program aimed at (primarily) Gifted and Talented kids across Victoria. 2015 will be a pilot year. ACMI (The Australian Centre for the Moving Image) are organising and overseeing the project. Four students from our school, Hawkesdale P12 College,  will be involved from years 7 and 8. Although, Jarrod Hogan, their English and Humanities teacher, will be primarily responsible, I will be helping out on the sidelines.

Students will be grouped as a trio, across age groups and across schools. They will work on creating videogames collaboratively in the online environment. Much of their collaboration and work will be completed online in their own time, with parents encouraged to oversee and a mentor usually on duty. They will be assisted through the process by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, industry mentors, online resources and specialist teachers.

Visiting the museum at ACMI

Visiting the museum at ACMI

Some of the tools to be used will be:

  • slack – for chat, socializing, discussions, sharing resources etc. It allows videos and images to be shown live
  • zoom – for online meetings
  • google drive for sharing documents and files with a group
  • scratch for creating the games
  • machinima for making movies of games et minecraft


Students attended one or two days face to face days in Melbourne, so they could get to know each other and learn more about the art of creating videogames. They will all meet up again in December, when they will all showcase their games. This is an exciting project to be involved in!
gamesNET at ACMI

Conversations in 140 characters

twitterA recent presentation to “Broadband for Seniors” tutors on “What you need to know about Twitter” brought forth the question

How can we possibly keep a tweet to 140 characters? Why cant twitter increase the number of characters?

and some of the responses from participants:

  • putting your message in so few words is tricky
  • putting yourself across succinctly takes practice but is good for your English!  (Rasa)
  • If you have to do all this to get beyond the 140 limit, why dont twitter just expand the 140 limit?
  • then it will become toooo much – the treat of it is its only 140 – short and sharp !!!140 characters – sweet and short (Megan)

Here are some tips for keeping within the 140 character limit:

  • Consider a short username/id/twitter handle if people reply to you or retweet one of your tweets it will not use up too many characters
  • Keep your sentence short, concise and to the poin
  • Use recognized abbreviations eg Ss and Ts for students and teachers. Rasa suggested searching online for twitter and facebook abbreviations
  • Use pictures to show what the tweet is about
  • Add short videos for depth See


  • Use a url shortener like bitly, moourl, tinyurl, google etc (although twitter seems  to shortern the url and not include all of it in the character count)
  • Create a poster in canva, a powerpoint slide converted to a jpg to portray a lot of information or other image generator for sharing  eg the 6 or 7 questions to be posed in a twitter chat. They can be displayed on a poster converted to jpg and then attached as an image so that the complete content can be displayed or see tweet below for another example:


Another question was “what happens if you exceed the 140 characters?” It highlights the characters that over the 140 mark and states how many characters you are over!

What tips and hints do you have to keep conversations within 140 characters?

140 characters

Feel safe with these ideas for blogging with students!

Digital image

Mentor students – blogging

“Blogging – an essential online space” (link to the recording)  was the theme of this week’s Tech Talk Tuesdays. I feel stronly that blogging should be open and online. Why?  Otherwise students should use offline tools to document their learning etc. A question was asked

 “How can we ensure that students are safe and secure whilst blogging?”

Here are some suggestions:

  1. The teacher should model and actively demonstrate safety, security and netiquette through a class blog first. Students will then learn safety aspects and appropriate online behaviour before individual blogging commences.
  2. Students should be taught what constitutes private information and how to protect their private information
  3. Make security and safety an integral part of teaching -give  constant reminders to students. Use any teachable moments as they arise.
  4. Use strong passwords
  5. Ensure that the teacher is a co-administrator of each student blog (for older students) or administrator for younger students (with them being an editor). This allows a teacher to step in and moderate if and when necessary.
  6. Comments should always be moderated.
  7. Blog roll links on the sidebar of blogs to other students should not list the last name of the students. Use first names only.
  8. Teachers should regularly check student blogs, make it part of their assessment.
  9. Encourage parents, teachers and community members (including global) to read the students blogs. Any problems will then be quickly alerted to.
  10. Participate in any online webinars that may be offered to classes  by organisations such as esafety.
Digital image

Learning to blog with mentor students


  1. Students create digital avatars as their visual representation rather than use their photo
  2. Ensure the school has have fully signed parent permission forms before adding photos of students to online spaces
  3. Students should not be named in any photos in  blog posts or pages. It is preferable to include group photos or use photos where faces are not clearly shown. There are software tools to pixellate faces. Read the excellent post by @suewaters Are you using student photos online?

Online timers in blogs or online spaces

One of my largest classes  is year 8 ICT. It  has a number of challenging students. As the class is a double period of 110 minutes, a variety of tasks is usually required. To give students a sense of time management, we looked at some of the online timers that they could use to ensure they stay on task. To my delight I found that one of the timers can actually be embedded into blogs and other online spaces. Click on this link, or click on the cog, lower left hand corner of the timer.

Unfortunately, the code does not work for my in WordPress so a screen shot has been added below. To see it in operation goto my class blog page and see it in action.

online timers

Each student embedded the countdown timer into a blog post, and I have also added it to a page on my class blog for quick and easy access. If you use the ‘choose a soundtrack’ option, top middle of timer, it will play music as it counts down.

Students were happily engaged for 20 mins or so, learning how to embed code on their blogs and exploring how to make the clock work in all manner of ways. The only problem is the advertising, but maybe this teaches students to ignore the advertising surrounding them.

Have you used any online timers? If so, please share in a comment below.

Conversations Worth Sharing

girls and alisa

It never ceases to amaze me about the many opportunities that technology can provide to learning in breaking down the barriers of distance, cost and effort. This also includes seas and time zones. Our school is rural remote – 30-40 mins from a major shopping centre. Our students either live on farms or in very small country towns. The town our school is situated in has 150 residents. We are surrounded by farmland on three sides.

One of my favourite tools continues to be skype. It is user friendly, able to be readily used by people from all countries, is free and relatively stable with our unpredictable school bandwidth. Bearing this in mind our students were offered the opportunity to linkup with the TED conference in Vancouver, Canada several months ago. Permission notes went home to parents of year 8 ICT students and my year 11 Business Management and Accounting students.

Year 8 ICT students were to play Mystery Career with a TED speaker (who turne out to be Alisa Miller, CEO of Public Radio Internationaland Year 11 students were to be given the opportunity to talk with Blake Mycoskie founder of TOMs shoes. Then, the most exciting connection of all (from the students’ point of view was the opportunity to interact with Mark Ronson! (of Uptown Funk fame).  He is an English musician, DJ, singer, and record producer. Please watch the fantastic result.

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Prior to the linkups

  • Permission forms were sent home to be signed by students’ parents.
  • Year 8 students prepared a series of questions that they could ask their mystery connection to determine their career.
  • Year 11 students compiled a series of questions to ask of Mark and Blake.
  • I booked the library as it had a cabled computer for best bandwidth, a whiteboard for projection of the TED conference
  • Our school was tested on several occasions for bandwidth and other technical capabilities by Skype technicians in London to ensure that our school, computer and setup would be capable of the connection.
  • 45 mins before the official connections, we were dialled in to ensure that lighting, backgrounds, framing of the students and audio was all okay! Our webcamera ended up being taped with masking tape to one of the speakers to ensure students were centred and framed well. So, please dont say that teachers need a lot of money or technology to achieve great things!!!
Out mystery career guest!

Out mystery career guest!

The actual linkup no 1 with Alisa Miller – Mystery Career

  • The call came through and we answered and connected with good video resolution and audio
  • all went well for the first 10 mins and then our computer independently rebooted and we lost connection
  • We dialled in again but our computer rebooted once more
  • Highly frustrated, I connected my laptop which had not been tested and it worked well enough for us to finish the first connection.
  • Surprisingly one of the year 8 students finally asked whether she was a CEO and there was an affirmative answer. See  the questions they had at their disposal to ask and determine the mystery career.
  • Alissa went on to talk more about what she does, how she got to the top and encouraged the girls to do their best and aim the highest!

Connection no2 with Mark Ronson and Blake Mycoskie – year 11 Business Management, Accounting Students and some year 8 students

  • again we connected 45 mins prior and tested the connections (technicians had replaced the desktop computer in the library). We were framed appropriately.
  • the dialling and connections worked a treat, the video and audio was of high quality. Another school from Tasmania was on skype with us and Mark Ronson
  • students were really excited to work with Mark as his work in the musical field was well known to them.
  • Blake was highly motivating in his stories of success and where he had started from. He outlined his social entrepreneurship as part of the Toms Shoes organisation. The content covered was highly relevant to their study of Business Management.

How amazing to be able to talk to three highly regarded global entrepreneurs from the comfort of our small rural school! Students  may not remember much of the textbook but they will remember their skype call with these people.

A keynote that brought much laughter but also some serious messages

Two Annes

Friday and Saturday, July 24th and 25th was the annual DLTV Conference (Digtial Learning and Teaching conference).

The bloopers!

I sat near the front for the opening keynote for the day with Celia Coffa. A lady jumped in the seat beside me and said she would just quickly sit here for a few moments. I introduced myself and found out her name was also Anne. I wondered why she just had a stack of papers in her hand as everyone else had a computer or mobile device! But each to their own!

Whilst the formalities of the day were being announced, I composed a tweet to state who the opening keynote was – a Comedian – Anne Edmonds and searched for her website so the link could go on the tweet. As I loaded it up, the lady beside me said that that was her! Oh dear, I was sitting next to the keynote speaker who has won an Australian award for her efforts in comedy work! I did tell I came from the country!

Anne was a great presenter and reminded us that failure can be the best teacher. She constantly learns through failures as a comedian.

and this tweet sums up another pearl of wisdom from the keynote

It was great to start the day with a laugh but to also reflect on some serious messages. Anne is well known for her comedy on Raylene the Racist that reflects typical Aussie humour..

As a teacher, it is good to hear from people in other professions to broaden our knowledge and perspective!

Learning at the DLTV Conference – #DigiCon15

Keynote - comedian Anne Edmonds

Keynote – comedian Anne Edmonds

It is many years since I have attended this conference physically. Although I have presented virtually over the last 3 years, it is good to attend the Victorian Technology Educators conference -and catch up with many of my Victorian colleagues who I have worked with closely – and also to make new acquaintances. The conference offered a few different features to both presenters and participants:-

  • a charger for mobile devices (which featured the logos/names of all the exhibitors) instead of the usual carry away bag full of promotional flyers. (everyone loved this)
  • a gift certificate for presenters offering a donation to the charity of their choice.
  • a fringe festival (a little like the ignite sessions at ISTE) that ran parallel to the many formal sessions
  • keynote speakers were all Victorian educators, except for Anne Edmonds who is a Victorian comedian. (We all liked featuring our own successful/innovative educators rather than bringing in external speakers.

Other features:

  • people were to prebook for the formal sessions but could choose to go to any on the day provided room was available.
  • good food and networking
  • approximately 400 attendees which kept it to more intimate levels.

Social media used

  • the twitter hashtag was #DigiCon15
  • a conference app using YAPP
  • Jenny Ashby was busy using Periscope to video many of the presentations
  • Roland Gesthuizen and Amanda Rabbin captured many other sessions using google hangouts!
Deanne Joost - Virtual Drama

Deanne Joost – Virtual Drama

Sessions that I attended included:

  1. Informatics – a session that explained the new study design for 2016 in VCE IT
  2. Virtual Drama – this was a great session with Deanne Joosten as presenter. She talked about teaching VCE drama to a class that included 3 remote schools together with her own face to face. She share the many tools that she used to engage them and ensure that they were learning. These included: skype, MS Lync, sway, office mix, voki, padlet, OneNote, powtoon, quizlet, weebly and nearpod. See more in her blog Inspired Creative Tech.
  3. The afternoon keynote with Corrie Barclay who shared experiences, student work and a lot of pertinent advice for teachers.
  4. The Internet of Things and how it could be used in school. This is a topic of high interest and the mechanics of the Internet of Things was shared with a number of devices on display. objects at the internet of things
  5. My presentation completed the day “Look No Walls”. The resource document can be found here.